Climate Change Update

Thank you for contacting me about climate change.

Concern about climate change is growing to unprecedented levels and I can assure you that I recognise the importance and urgency of public debate on this issue. 

The Government's view is that the threat of global warming has never been more apparent, as highlighted by the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming. However, we are also now witnessing a powerful momentum towards a more ambitious global response, most recently demonstrated by agreement on a ‘rulebook’ for the Paris Agreement late last year.

The Government is also proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth, with the UK being the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions targets under the landmark Climate Change Act in 2008. Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, the best performance on a per person basis than any other G7 nation.

To continue this momentum, the Government published the Clean Growth Strategy in 2017, setting out its plans for meeting the UK’s carbon targets and the ambition to legislate for a net zero emissions target. This has been boosted by significant innovation funding made available through the Industrial Strategy.

The UK is a world leader in clean growth and the Government has invested more than £52 billion in renewable energy in the UK since 2010. The Industrial Strategy and the Clean Growth Strategy identify and target the huge potential opportunity for the UK from clean growth and transitioning to a low carbon economy, while the National Adaptation Programme 2018-23 sets out a strategy for dealing with the effects of a changing climate. The Government has also agreed to support and expand offshore wind and made the historic commitment to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025.

Government support has driven down the cost of renewable energy. Solar, for example, has seen costs fall by 35 per cent in the last three years. I believe that support should help low-cost, low-carbon technologies to stand on their own two feet, rather than create dependence on public subsidies, which ultimately drive bills up for consumers. 

At the same time, the ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan outlines the Government’s commitment to supporting and protecting the world’s most biodiverse forests, supporting sustainable agriculture and enhancing sustainability, and supporting zero-deforestation supply chains.

That said, the Government will do more, which is why it asked the Committee on Climate Change to advise on how and when we could achieve net zero emissions. Their report published on the 2nd May sets out a path for the UK to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely. As I understand it, Ministers will consider its advice carefully and aim to respond in a timeframe that reflects the urgency of the issue at hand.

The International Climate Fund has been set up to provide £5.8 billion to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth. Through it, the UK works in partnership with developing countries to:

  • reduce carbon emissions through promoting low carbon development;
  • help poor people protect themselves from the effects of climate change; and
  • reduce deforestation.

In addition, the UK supports efforts to integrate climate change policies into international development plans.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

May 2019